Man City v Chelsea: Phil Thompson on Premier League title chances
Last Updated: 03/12/16 12:04pm
Phil Thompson has assessed the credentials of title favourites Manchester City and Chelsea ahead of Saturday's clash, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
The teams meet at the Etihad Stadium at 12.30pm in what looks set to be a pivotal affair in the title race with the pair considered favourites for the Premier League title.
Seven-time league winner Thommo, whose former side Liverpool are currently third in Sky Bet's outright market, provides his view on both sides' main strength, weakness and most important player to their hopes of Premier League glory.
Main strength: Attacking weaponry
Manchester City's title hopes are going to come down to how many goals Sergio Aguero's supporting cast can score. Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling's goals seem to have dried up of late but you'd assume they'll come good.
The return of Yaya Toure gives them another fantastic option. He looks fresh and more energetic than he has before, which is a huge boost for them.
Main weakness: Unsettled backline
I don't think it helps with all the changes they make, which is making for poor cohesion. Certainly the better teams have sussed them out, pressing them high and forcing them to take chances.
They looked better when they started to settle down with a more regular back four but that seems to have gone out of the window again, with Pep Guardiola playing Aleksandar Kolarov at centre-back last weekend.
Key man: Sergio Aguero
This fella is astonishing. You look at the different type of goals he scores, some fantastic ones and then two scrappy ones at the weekend. When you look at Kelechi Iheanacho's goals-per-minute record and consider he barely gets a sniff, that tells you everything about how vital Aguero is to his team.
Main strength: Defensive improvements
You would have said the weakness was going to be the defence at the start of the season but Antonio Conte is certainly getting a tune out of the back three. I've been a massive critic of David Luiz, and Gary Cahill was also making too many mistakes, but they've somehow both eradicated them from their games.
The two wing-backs have been nothing short of phenomenal, with Victor Moses in particular being an unsung hero. Marcos Alonso has played in that role before but what Moses has done to adapt and make a niche after being loaned out to so many clubs is incredible.
Main weakness: Beating the best
It's very difficult to pin a weakness on this side given the form they are in but the one thing they've got to prove here is that they can beat the top sides.
I know they won against Tottenham but they were outplayed in the first half until Spurs tired, and before their run we were asking a lot of questions about them as they lost to Arsenal and Liverpool. This is the big test for them, especially away from home.
Key man: Diego Costa
Eden Hazard is a great player but they've also got Oscar, Willian and even Cesc Fabregas who could fill in if he was ruled out. In terms of strikers they don't have anyone tried and tested in the Premier League. Chelsea are relying on Costa's goals a lot and the turnaround of his and Hazard's form under Conte is nothing short of astounding.
His temperament is an interesting one. People are saying that Conte has got him more focused but I think it's just because they're winning. We'll see if he keeps his cool if they stop winning games.